My 6-year old son will ask me if he can watch a movie. Not once. Not twice. Not a few times. He will ask me continually, for hours, until he gets the answer he wants, which is supposed to be, “Yes! You can watch a movie RIGHT NOW.”
Eventually that’s the answer, because it becomes too much trouble to keep saying, “I’m thinking about it.” At some point I have to start thinking about other things – or at least pretend that I am.
His ability to not take “No” for an answer is partly inherent and partly learned. Partly inherent, because I think all children are born with the intuitive gift of wearing parents down. Partly learned because I almost always allow myself to get worn down and eventually give in, which he knows.
In sales and marketing, it doesn’t work the same way. Sure, you can wear people down until you get a response, but it’s not usually the response you want, which is “Yes, I’ll buy/try/attend.” Instead of wearing people down so they give in, you end up annoying them so they hang up, unsubscribe or avoid you.
I’ve experienced this in retail from the time I was a teen, working at the mall. We were pushed to attack all customers coming in, pestering them until they bought something or left. “Can I help you?” was never enough. We had to employ religious cult tactics, continually asking leading questions (Are you looking for a poster? A framed print? Is it a gift?), never accepting “I’m just browsing” as an answer.
Which was perfectly wrong, because we chased a lot of people out of our store.
The perfectly right thing to do is to leave browsers alone and let them browse all they want. Browsing isn’t the opposite of buying, it’s a gateway to buying.
Remind them you are there to help every now and then. Eventually, they will know what they want and they will more likely come to you to get it.